Rants and musings from the magazine team
Earlier this week, we gave credit where it's due for the 20 best Premier League football kits. Now, it's time for debit where it's due: the worst of the last two top-flight decades. And no, that grey Manchester United kit isn't in there…
Arsenal (A) 1991-1993Welcoming the Premier League era with a bang (as taste leaves the building, slamming the door behind it), this chevron shocker is a staple of bad-shirt lists because it's quite unbelievably bad. Someone designed this; someone cleared it; some even bought it.
Aston Villa (H) 2004/05More shameful chevron shenanigans. Rehired kit manufacturers Hummel went overboard on the pointy little bleeders for this shirt, which only lasted a year before being dechevronned. Didn't stop people asking "Why are they sponsored by Cows?"
Birmingham City (H) 2010/11Give the people what they want, goes the mantra. So when Birmingham hired Chinese manufacturer Xtep, there was a four-way public vote on the new shirt design, and the worst one won. Could've been Villa fans on the sly; certainly a lesson that democracy doesn't work. You hear that, China?
Blackburn Rovers (A) 1996/7Not a good season for Rovers. Alan Shearer had gone, Ray Harford resigned, Sven-Göran Eriksson reneged on replacing him – and the players had to shuffle around in this mess, which combined an unwisely bold yellow with vertical strips of what looks like doodles or the result of leaning against a freshly-creosoted fence.
Bolton Wanderers (H) 2008/09You'd think it'd be hard to go wrong with a plain white shirt. You'd be wrong. This Reebok effort made it look like the Wanderers players were wearing some sort of sports bra. The one after that looked like a stripy Tesco carrier-bag.
Chelsea (A) 1994-1996Back in the early 90s, there were conversations in the pub (it's like Facebook, but boozy) about whether kit manufacturers were trying to outdo each other in awfulness. The Silver Tangerine may be Umbro's entry, as worn by Chelsea ledges like Ruud Gullit and Dennis Wise.
Coventry City (A) 1992/93Notable taste-swerving shirt pioneers since the 70s (the Talbot T, the cack-brown away kit), Cov reached a nadir with this effort from the Premier League's first season. Thankfully seldom seen, it was redolent of a car windscreen in a particularly grisly public information film about seatbelts.
Everton (H) 2009/10Yep, the white bit recalls fond memories of Everton's excellent 1985/86 season. But coupled with the chest-crossing hem, it looks too much like a lady's plunging neckline. And we really don't want to consider Osman's orbs, Cahill's cleavage, Bilyaletdinov's bazongas, etc.
Fulham (A) 2010/11Apparently, some people like this kit. They say it's the colour of Australian sports teams, as if that makes it all OK. It's also the colour of the result left behind after a sickly cat gorges on grass, or a toddler eats its crayons.
Liverpool (H) 1993-95Shankly changed Liverpool to all-red in 1965, but in 1991 Adidas added their three-stripe motif overtly to the right shoulder and left hip, and this update doubled the intrusion so players looked like they'd been rugby-tackled by Tippex. The team's not been the same since. Coincidence?
Manchester United (H) 2009/10 Commemorative kits are good for clubs, in that they can scrap them after a year, and for fans, in that they don't have to put up with frequently awful designs for more than one campaign. Some centenary or other 'inspired' Nike to whack a black rugby-shirt V across the chest; reaction was mixed, to say the least.
Newcastle (A) 1997/98Newcastle don't have to wear their away kit very often; good job, with shockers like this. This cacophony of blue, green and orange – with badge and stripe off-centre for no real reason – looked like an ugly bruise ripening in the sun, and when Kenny Dalglish's underachievers wore it in a 4-1 defeat at Leeds ref David Elleray changed his own shirt to avoid any comparison.
Norwich City (H) 1992-1994No apologies for including the legendary "Canary-cack" shirt, one of several from the dawn of the Premiership when kit designers appeared to be seeing just how much they could get away with. Apparently manufacturers Ribeiro went bust halfway through the 1993/94 season, and replacements Mitre toned it down ten notches for the following campaign; draw your own conclusions.
Nottingham Forest (H) 1994-1996Forest were relegated and immediately re-promoted in a pin-striped strip of cool simplicity, which was the subtly altered in pre-season to replace Shipstones with new sponsor Labatts. Sadly they then switched to this over-egged pudding, with thick black "rucksack straps" and unnecessary white horizontals.
Reading (A) 2007/08Hoops are jolly, lively livery. Perhaps influenced by the dour public image of Steve Coppell – a man who once, when asked what promotion to the Premier League meant, replied "nine months of hell" – Reading dialled down the joy by choosing change colours of funereal black and grey. Reading were relegated.
Sheffield Wednesday (H) 1995-1997You'd think it'd be difficult to get it wrong with stripes. You'd be wrong. After a century of regularity, Wednesday suddenly decided to go all barcode, making it harder to see the badge (pity) and manufacturer logo (justice) and adding unprecedented splashes of yellow. And that's to say nothing of the background montage of letters saying, oh yes, SWFC (Stop Wilfully Faffing with the Colours?).
Sunderland (A) 1996-97"To mark the 11th anniversary of the 1985 Milk Cup Final – which Sunderland lost 1-0 to Norwich City through an own goal in a season which ultimately saw both teams relegated – we've honoured our Canary conquerors by adopting their colours for a change strip." So ran a press release which we've just made up.
Tottenham (A) 1995/96Purple is the colour of kings. Purple is the colour worn by high academics. Purple is the colour of pride. Purple is the colour of UKIP. Purple is the colour of death. Purple should not be the colour of a football kit.
West Ham (H) 1993-95In the early 90s, kit manufacturers overstepped the mark. Having signed up West Ham and Southampton, Pony wasted no time in pasting their trademark (no, really) reverse tick across the chest of the players, attempting to justify it with various other unnecessary brush-strokes.
Wigan (A) 2008-09Fluorescence demands confidence. It screams "look at me", so you'd better be worth looking at. Barcelona did it in 2005, Chelsea in 2007; Wigan coat-tailed along the following season. No need for jokes about news arriving slowly in Wigan.
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